Mobile's missing connection: outcomes data

The growth of global mobile healthcare, while rapid stateside, is limited due to economic, organizational and technological differences between nations, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution's Center for Technology Innovation.

Darrell West, the center's director and lead author of the report, says that despite "considerable data" on the benefits mobile technology can provide for healthcare with regard to reduced wait times and cost savings, insufficient evidence exists on clinical outcomes.

"We need more information demonstrating the connection [of mobile technologies] to … drops in infant mortality, reductions in the spread of infectious diseases, and positive treatment of chronic illnesses," West writes in the report. "Those are the ultimate objectives on healthcare."

The report also points to reimbursement policies and regulation as blocking the ultimate progress of mHealth. Echoing sentiments recently expressed by FierceHealthIT's Ken Terry, West writes that because the current reimbursement model rewards in-person encounters, physician interest in the technology is limited, at best.

"There needs to be policy changes that recognize the new landscape of medical care and the benefits of remote monitoring devices, preventive medicine, text reminders to take medication, and electronic consultations," West writes.

He also addresses growing concerns in the industry around privacy, highlighting concerns over the potential for lost devices or hacked information. Similar concerns are the subject of recently released report released by the Department of Homeland Security. In that report, officials say that such situations "can dictate life or death."

To learn more:
- read the Brookings report (.pdf)